{organizing with style} A Filing System for Menus and Recipe Clippings

Does this ever happen to you... You are in the middle of a big project when some small pile of clutter catches your eye, and even though it's been that way for a long time, it suddenly seems imperative that you stop the big project you are working on to address it immediately.  I call it Organization Procrastination. Or maybe Organization A.D.D. is a better way to describe it?!

Well, that happened to me a while back.  I was in the middle of a larger project in the kitchen, when all of the sudden a pile of menus and recipe clippings caught my attention and I couldn't focus on anything else until I got it under control. But for some reason I never blogged about that project, and today, while working on another post, I had another case of Organization A.D.D. and decided I just had to push pause on the blog post I was planning to share today to tell you about my menu and recipe filing project instead.

I like to cook, and I can't flip through a magazine without tearing out at least a few recipes that look delicious. Sometimes I try those recipes right away, and other times they sit around for a year or two before the mood strikes me to finally try them out. But, in the meantime, those recipe clippings were just adding to my kitchen paper pile problems. {Click here to read how I tamed the other papers in my kitchen.}

I wanted to find a way to organize all of these recipe clippings, but I needed the system to be quick easy. And that's when I remembered the cute little file box that I had purchased at Target. I bought the box because I loved the hinged lid and the color, and because it was on sale. I knew I'd eventually find a good use for - I mean, really, you can never have too many filing supplies at the ready (tell me I'm not the only one who hordes pretty office supplies?!) The box came with matching files, so all I had to do was sort my menu clippings into categories: Breakfast, Appetizers, Lunch & Dinner, Side Dishes, Desserts, and Drinks.

After living with this recipe clipping file system for a few weeks, I decided to add one more file that I labeled "Recipes: Favorites." Now when I tear recipes out of magazines, or print them from Pinterest or blogs, I simply put each recipe into the file corresponding with its category. And then once I've tried a recipe, I ask myself whether it's something I would make again. If the answer is no, it goes directly into the recycling bin, and if the answer is yes, it goes into the new Favorites file. When I want to make something tried and tested, I go straight to the Favorites file, and when I am in the mood for something new, I can thumb through the other files for inspiration. I plan to eventually create a binder of some kind for all of the recipes that end up in the Favorites file, but for now, this system is keeping me on track.

This file box also allowed me to tackle another source of my never ending struggles with piles of paper - menus.  While I like to cook, I would be lying if I told you I cook dinner every night of the week. The truth is that there may be a few delivery drivers who know me by name. And so the menus piled up - until now. I sorted all of our menus, separating the delivery menus from the menus for favorite local restaurants that {sadly} do not deliver, and I created two files.

In the process of sorting through all of our menus, I also came across a handful of brochures for food vendors that are regulars at our neighborhood farmer's market.  I like to keep this information on hand so that in the off-season, we can still get in contact with these companies. Sometimes we just can't wait until spring to restock our freezer with homemade tamales!  These farmer's market brochures got their own file.

This project started because I had piles of recipes clippings and menus that were getting out of hand. But if I can give you one piece of advice about filing, it's to sort all of your papers before determining how to label your files. Inevitably, you will discover other things in your pile that necessitate additional files, so it's best to sort first and label second. In the process of my sorting, realized that many of my magazine clippings aren't recipes, but still deserve a place in the kitchen. As a result, I added a new file for these clilppings that I labeled "Kitchen Tips & Tricks."

Lastly, this kitchen file box provided a perfect place for me to store the manuals for our various kitchen appliances and gadgets. I have a separate system for storing instruction manuals elsewhere in the house, but it just made more sense to rellocate the kitchen manuals to the kitchen.

And that's how a little procrastination from one organizing project can turn in to a great organizing solution for an entirely different problem. My pantry may still be a mess {I'll get back to that soon}, but at least my recipe clippings and menus are now quick and easy to find, and I have one less pile of papers cluttering up my counters.

This file box fits perfectly on a shelf inside of one of our kitchen cupboards, keeping it out of sight, but still within easy reach. Now when I tear recipes out of magazines, or when new menus come in the mail, I simply pull out this box and file them away before they become clutter.

My menu and recipe file box is one of three new filing systems that I implemented in the last year to get our kitchen paper problem in check. Click here to read about our counter top filing system for incoming mail and bills, and click here to see how I'm using a mini expanding filer to keep my coupons and gift cards on-hand at all times.

My kitchen organization mission is far from complete, but now that I have all of my paper piles under control, I can move on to the more glamorous projects {like under the kitchen sink}.

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